Cosmic anti-matter eyed in CERN’s new project
GENEVA - Reuters
nti-matter -- matter with negative gravity -- has already been used in cancer treatments.
Unraveling one of the great enigmas of the visible universe, why it is made up largely of matter, will be the target of a ground-breaking research project kicked off on Wednesday at a meeting of leading physicists from eight countries.
More precisely, the program will aim to find why there is so little left of the anti-matter believed to have been present in equal quantities at the “Big Bang” 13.7 billion years ago but which then mysteriously disappeared, or all but. The CERN particle physics research center said the program would be conducted with a new “Extra Low Energy Antiproton Ring,” dubbed ELENA, which will begin delivering large numbers of tiny anti-proton particles by 2016. Attending this week’s meeting at CERN, which is leading the project to begin in 2013 with the ring’s installation, are scientists from Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, Sweden and the United States. “This is a big step forward for anti-matter physics,” said Walter Oelert, pioneer expert at CERN -- home to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) “Big Bang” machine -- which said last week researchers had tracked particles traveling faster than light. Anti-matter was discovered in 1932 after decades of theorizing, and was quickly absorbed into science fiction with its capacity to destroy any ordinary matter it touches.The matter is converted into instant energy, a fact that has led to speculation that such reactions could fuel ultra-fast spacecraft for inter-stellar travel or be adapted for military use as a trigger for nuclear weapons. Anti-matter -- matter with negative gravity -- has already been used in cancer treatments, some developed at CERN, but spokesman James Gillies said ELENA would focus on pure physics.